After two long years of lockdowns, the city of Sydney is set to come alive during Vivid, the colourful celebration of "creativity, curiosity and change".
Between Friday, May 27 and Saturday, June 18 there will be spectacular light shows, dance parties and performances by local and international artists. The visual spectacle will extend to the dinner table, as a selection of the city's restaurants create special one-off menus for the festival.
We've rounded up 10 of the most exciting Vivid food experiences this year, from long dinners in a lit-up laneway to colourful high teas, cocktails and chocolate truffles.
Aria x Acid.Flwrs
Four-course set menu from $190
Matt Moran's hatted quayside restaurant is collaborating with floral art studio Acid.Flwrs to undergo a vibrant, botanical makeover during Vivid.
Acid.Flwrs founder Clare Mueller transforms fresh-cut flowers with psychedelic patterns using a historical printmaking technique that has earned her thousands of social media fans and seen her collaborate with fashion designers, sculptors and musicians. For the duration of the festival, Mueller will create a multi-faceted installation in the restaurant. The collaboration extends to the cuisine, with a limited edition cocktail menu plus visually-spectacular chocolate truffles (pictured) by executive chef Tom Gorringe.
Wed-Thu 5.30pm-9.30pm; Fri-Sat noon-3pm and 5pm-9.30pm; 1 Macquarie Street, Sydney, 02 9240 2255, ariasydney.com.au/aria-x-acid-flwrs
Limited edition menu $59-89 per person
Diners eager to catch the harbourside light show can enjoy an early dinner at the hatted Sydney restaurant Spice Temple. The Chinese restaurant will open its main dining room from 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday, during Vivid to showcase two limited edition menus. The $59 bar banquet is for walk-ins only and includes crystal dumplings, lamb pancakes and spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies. For those who prefer to plan ahead, the $89 set menu offers Hangzhou-style flathead; three-shot chicken with beer, chilli and soy; and mandarin marshmallows.
Tue-Sat, 5pm-6.30pm; 10 Bligh Street, Sydney, 02 8099 7088, spicetemple.com.au
The long laneway dinner will feature monochrome dishes. Photo: Supplied
Silvester's x Three Bottle Man long laneway dinner
Three-course menu $129 per person
The Bulletin Place laneway is lighting up for Vivid with a $129 pop-up dinner created by Raphael Szurek, the head chef at Marriott restaurant Silvester's, and the team behind CBD wine bar, Three Bottle Man. Diners will be seated at long communal tables, surrounded by a garden of lights and (with any luck) sparkling conversation. The menu stays firmly on theme, with each dish showcasing a singular colour. Though this is an outdoor event, temperature need not be a concern: blankets and outdoor heating are plentiful.
Thu-Sat 6pm (from Saturday, May 28 onwards); Three Bottle Man,1 Bulletin Place, Sydney, 02 9259 7279, eventbrite.com
Ventuno dinner cruise
$255 per person
Step aboard the MV Coast catamaran for a Vivid show and dinner. On two Wednesdays the heated, charter yacht will transport guests from Walsh Bay restaurant Ventuno to the centre of Sydney harbour to watch hundreds of colour-changing lights pulse through the city. Upon their return to the restaurant, guests will be seated for a three-course Italian dinner with wine pairings and a view of Walsh Bay's own installation, Ephemeral Oceanic. This bubble-inspired light show features 150 illuminated spheres.
Wed 6pm-9.30pm, June 1 and 8; 21 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, 02 9247 4444, ventuno.com.au
Merivale presents Press Play
Tickets to Merivale's inaugural Vivid Sydney Dinner sold out within days of their release. If you missed out on the "feast for the senses", don't despair: there's still a chance to experience some of the magic at Press Play. Over two nights, this free event will take guests on a journey through Ivy's two-level atrium, where they will experience light installations, soundscapes, live DJs and roaming avant-garde performers. Groups of four or more who dine at MuMu, Bar Totti's, Felix, Ash St. Cellar, Mr. Wong, Jimmy's Falafel or Uccello after the show receive a complimentary round of signature cocktails (after 9.30pm).
Tue-Wed 6pm-11.30pm, June 7 and 8; Ivy, 330 George Street, Sydney, 02 9240 3000, vividsydney.com
Dishes from $14
At Darling Square, Tomorrow's Blossoming by light sculpture artist Gemma Ferguson will see hundreds of flowers illuminated along an 8 kilometre track through Haymarket. For those who'd rather sit, Auvers is bringing its Asian-fusion dining to the light-walk with a limited edition menu and cocktail list. Highlights include ceviche with Hokkaido scallops, yuzu and mandarin gel; sous vide lamb tenderloin with potato fondant and red wine jus; and the "foggy Vivid florist", a dessert with coconut cream cheese mousse, matcha sable (shortbread cookie) and orange sugar crisp.
Shop 4/12 Nicolle Walk, Haymarket, 02 9188 2392, auverscafe.com.au
Specials from $18
The Lotus dumpling masters are have created a selection of specials including bright red xiao long bao (soup dumplings) filled with Singapore crab and a "starry night" cocktail featuring butterfly pea-infused vodka. Head to the light show at Walugul Walk afterwards, where First Nations and emerging artists from Western Sydney have created a visual gallery reflecting community and diversity.
The Opera Bar presents Into The Blue
Settle in for a few drinks at The Opera Bar, where you'll have front-row seats to the Paramount+ night flight, the largest drone light show ever seen in the southern hemisphere. The harbourside bar has teamed up with Bombay Sapphire to create a series of Vivid-themed cocktails and snacks, including Sydney rock oysters with gazpacho; rainbow blondies with candied popcorn; and colourful crudites with romesco and corn tortillas. Every night during Vivid there'll be live music, a photobooth and free entry.
Daily after dark; Macquarie Street, Sydney, 02 8587 5900, operabar.com.au
A selection of Vivid-themed sweet and savoury dishes await at The Waiting Room. Photo: Supplied
Vivid high tea at The Waiting Room
$85-$105 per person
The limited edition high tea offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the harbourside walk, without compromising on views. The Waiting Room overlooks a series of light installations, including the Wulugul Walk, and is within easy walking distance of the space-themed digital projection Corpi Celesti. The Vivid tiered stand features a vibrant selection of savoury and sweet treats including prawn rolls, quail scotch eggs, and a hazelnut whipped ganache with Frangelico jelly and salted caramel. Choose between tea or coffee, or amp up the sparkle with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne.
Fri-Sun 2pm-5pm; The Waiting Room, Level 1, Crown Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney, 0288717171, crownhotels.com.au
6Head's Vivid Experience
$265 per person
Sydney Harbour steakhouse 6Head has teamed up with SixthSense Agency and RedBalloon to create an immersive, multi-sensory dining experience for the festival. The "theatrical gastronomy" package includes a cocktail on arrival, three-course menu and an unlimited two-hour beverage package. The indoor light-show will play out over the tablescape, illuminating the room as waiters serve dishes such as pan-fried Murray cod with charred corn, kombu butter and mussels; Mayura rump tartare and baked dark chocolate and malt tart.
Wed-Sun 6pm-8.15pm and 8.45pm-late; Bay 10 and 11, Campbell's Stores, 7-27 Circular Quay West, The Rocks, 02 8629 8866, 6head.com.au